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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 4112

Dr GILLESPIE (Lyne) (12:35): We just need to cut to the chase, no pun intended. To the average person in Australia, who has a big dose of common sense, a cut usually means you are getting less next year than what you are getting this year. To put it in simple terms, there are no cuts, because education spending by the Commonwealth over the term of this government has gone up by 27.4 per cent. That is a massive increase. All the money that was committed in the forward estimates, when this government was given responsibility for the Treasury bench, has been delivered. It has not been reduced, which is what a cut means—it has been increased by 27 per cent. That is a massive increase. What the opposition is going on about is not a cut. The projected increases were blue sky figures that they pulled out of the air, that were totally unbudgeted for beyond the forward estimates—they were signing up for things that no other government has ever done. They were promising people things that were not in the forward estimates.

That was one of the many land mines that they left behind. They could see they were heading for the exit door, so they thought, 'How are we going to have something to argue about for the next couple of years?' They dreamt up these ridiculous blue sky figures that they knew in their heart of hearts they were never going to be able to deliver, and now they accuse us of reducing them. The increases that will happen in the latest forward estimates involve a 3.65 per cent increase. The quantum of funding that is there under the Gonski model will remain. That is what people need to remember. An increase of 3.65 per cent over the forward estimates—a total of $4.1 billion between government and non-government schools—is not a cut. So all this nonsense about Turnbull's cutting is absolute rubbish. It is just a play on words. That is all it is—it is a play on words.

Let us just get down to what actually is important in education. As investment bankers are wont to say, 'Let us monetise something.' They equate quality with the spend. The PISA results have shown us that money is not everything in education. We have all had great teachers. Teacher quality and parental engagement are two of the biggest predictors of student outcomes. You cannot buy parental engagement. Parents either engage or they do not. You should be reading to your kids when they are little, be involved in their homework, check up on them and go to parent-teacher meetings. Being involved in the school is very important, and dollars do not prevent or make parents get involved. They do it because they are good parents. Teacher quality is also important. We have all had teachers that we remember even from kindergarten, through to high school. You have had teachers that have inspired you, or that you remember. You ask your kids, 'Who are your good teachers?' and they will say, 'Mr X or Mrs Y, she is really good,' or the opposite for teachers that do not engage them, encourage them and inspire them. So, teacher quality and parental engagement are important.

Ms Ryan interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Dr Southcott ): The member for Lalor will cease interjecting.

Dr GILLESPIE: Also, having a really strong curriculum is what will deliver runs, in the educational sense, to Australian students. We want our PISA results to be going up. We want to catch up with our Asian neighbours to the north, who seem to be going ahead in leaps and bounds. There has been a rejuvenation and an interest in the evidence base on the benefits of phonics for reading, simple arithmetic skills and a narrative in history and social sciences—all those things that build knowledge in young people. They are all so important. But let us just remind everyone of one thing. There are no cuts. It is just a play on words. Figures announced show that there is going to be an extra $1½ billion. Over the forward estimates that will be a 3.65 per cent increase. There has already been a 27 per cent increase in Commonwealth spending over the term of this government. We have honoured what we said we would spend under Gonski, and we are committed to getting better educational outcomes.